Larry Henderson, a Northern Virginia handyman, was sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to bank fraud in federal court, the Washington Post reported. Henderson admitted committing a common fraud that has become known as "the handyman scam." Usually, the criminal earns the trust and friendship of elderly homeowners by performing, or claiming to perform, a small job for free. The criminal then tricks victims into taking out large home-equity loans for jobs they don't need and the handyman never bothers to perform.
In Henderson's case, the elderly victims suffered from "diminished mental capacity," according to the Post, so Henderson was able to convince them to pay exorbitant prices for simple work, including $20,000 to trim the shrubs. He was able to get one elderly widow to take out four home-equity loans totaling $68,000. Investigators believe he may have stolen nearly a million dollars total from his victims, but he has admitted to stealing only half that, the Post reported.
Henderson's attorney, John Kiyonago, says his client cooperated fully with the police. "He has accepted responsibility for his actions," he says.